Moscow Sheremetyevo | Example of an Approach Plan

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

A couple hours ago, I opened approach for Moscow Sheremetyevo to get some time in for the evening. What happened during this led to one of the best app sessions I’ve had in a while, thanks to pilots who were incredibly (and dare I say, unusually cooperative).

Today, I want to share with you aspiring approach controllers and everyday pilots on how I planned this approach session. As many of you know, a successful controller has to have a plan when vectoring and handling aircraft into his or her designated airport.

Enjoy! Some pictures are included, of course.

App planning- Northwest

  • Aircraft came in from the northwest, bearing southeast. Initial assignment upon reporting in was 13/15,000 feet and heading 100, putting planes in position for a slanted base.
    • Upon reaching 30 track miles from the localizer and leveling out, aircraft were assigned final intercept altitude of 3,000.
      • Even by rough estimation, this would give a gentle descent slope of 1,200-1,500ish feet per minute or so. Not demanding by any means.
  • Continuous downwind meant an extension of track miles flown should the pilot require even more miles in order to burn off altitude.
  • Once hitting the final downwind point established by me about 12-15 miles from the runway threshold, aircraft were directed to turn to 150 for a full base heading.
  • 60 degrees turn from base was then given, putting aircraft on track to intercept the ILS at heading 210.
    • In cases of the pilot being a speed-happy flyer, an extra ten degrees was given to 220 in order to create a shallower joining point, allowing for merging on the extended runway centerline while (eventually) slowing down for good.

App planning- South/East

  • Aircraft coming in from the south/west of the field were given an initial vector of 13/15,000 and heading 040-070 to establish themselves on a downwind to the left side of the airport.
  • A significant amount of planes departed Moscow Vnukovo and Domodedovo approximately 20-30 miles to the direct south and came to me for whatever reason, prompting a series of two actions:
    • Heading towards a slanted base at 030-040, the reasoning being a full downwind parallel to the airport would’ve put on further unnecessary miles and time in the air for aircraft.
      • Remember, controllers are here for expeditious service. I will do my best not to make you fly for any longer than you have to (unwillingly, of course)
    • Several speed commands had to be issued to allow pilots to “slip in line” behind one another, ensuring minimum IFR to IFR requirements were met (1000 feet vertically, 3 miles horizontally).
  • From the established line, aircraft were then directed towards a full base at heading 340 at about 12-15 miles out, giving ample width to turn towards the centerline.
  • Final turn to heading 270 was given, allowing the aircraft to join the ILS and line up for landing.


And, of course, the pilots were the ones who made this session possible. Thanks to everyone for coming out and following instructions amazingly well! During the course of the entire session, I only had to ghost one person.

Remember, ATC always has a plan. Hopefully this post was able to shed some insight on both sides of the asile on how one might plan a session. Cheers!

(Shoutout to @Andres for communicating well as tower)


Nice one @JoshFly8 , how’d you manage runways during the session? Looked like you used both. I’ve always had trouble with those types of airports (2 runways without much separation) as it’s too close to do a parallel approach. What spacing would you say would be minimal if 2 aircraft were on final to the two parallel runways. Look forward to controlling there romorrow

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If you’re going to conduct parallel approaches at the same time without the usual separation between centerlines, there has to be a 1000 foot difference between aircraft (I.E- one intercepts at 3K, the other at 2K). Either that or three miles horizontally, but has the side effect of lengthening the downwind line. San Francisco is a good example of this phenomenon.

So, if one aircraft misses the approach or overshoots the centerline, minimal IFR separation will still be met (in addition to satisfying close-quarters parallel approach criteria). Killing two birds with one stone, effectively.


Gotcha, I’ve also heard somewhere that the aircraft should not pass each other while on final, I see that you still left some some horizontal separation between the parallel aircraft.

Pass each other? Once they’re established on the ILS and committed fully, it doesn’t really matter. It’s like a train on tracks- they won’t be diverting or swaying into the path of the other plane. In the real world, there’s letters of agreements and established procedures, which allow planes to operate that close; for IF purposes, we’re keeping it simple.

In my session, it wasn’t really busy enough to conduct parallel approaches. The planes just came in one at a time on a perfect line with mile gaps and varying speeds, none of which were my doing, to be honest. The situation just panned out really well for some reason.

Awesome! When pilots and ATC are on the same page it sure is great.

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Slurp, Noice!

How many aircraft do you reckon you had in total?

Uh… maybe 40 total inbound? 30ish departures. Just estimating off the top of my head.

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Noice :)

Must of been Busy? Or is that normal?

Normal for a late evening in the East Coast, I guess. Actually a little busier than I thought it would be. Pleasant surprise, though.

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Hahahaha yea right, by the seat of my pants all day every day

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Well… you’ve got to set an example!

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